Why Can't You Open Your Car Door If Someone is Trying to Unlock It at the Same Time?

iStock
iStock

At some point, everyone who rides in a car will experience the same awkward dance between a passenger and a driver: the door unlocking kerfuffle. One person pushes the button to try to unlock the car, while the person trying to get the door open pulls the handle at the same time. The car won’t unlock, and both passenger and driver have to repeat the process all over again—perhaps going through the whole procedure multiple times before successfully getting the timing right. Shouting may ensue.

According to Jalopnik, this inconvenient feature of all cars is the result of the very complicated mechanics behind automobile doors. To explain how, Jalopnik senior editor Jason Torchinsky and writer David Tracy opened up the door panels on two cars to see how each locking mechanism worked.

The simple answer is that the unlock button and pulling the door handle both trigger two different actions inside the door. “The most basic explanation possible is that pulling on the handle engages a little mechanical piece inside the door, a piece that bumps into another mechanical piece triggered by someone else trying to unlock the door,” Torchinksky and Tracy write. “Alone, either one would do their job unimpeded. Do both at the same time and they block each other.”

This is true in both older cars and newer models, though the latch systems have evolved over the years. These door locks include multiple links and latches that each have to coordinate to lock and unlock a car. Because the system that unlocks the door from the inside with a button and the system that unlocks it from the outside with a key are completely separate, they can’t both be engaged at the same time—kind of like how you can’t breathe and swallow at the same time.

For a closer look, you can see a door lock in action for yourself in this breathlessly narrated but useful YouTube video illustrating how the locks on a 2001 Toyota Corolla work.

If you’re mechanically inclined, head to Jalopnik for more details, including photos and graphics that allow you to see inside doors and get up-close with the locking mechanisms.

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Why Do Dogs Lick?

iStock/MichaelSvoboda
iStock/MichaelSvoboda

​One of the more slightly annoying things our dogs do (or most adorable, depending on who you ask) involves their tongue obsessively licking every crevice of every spot possible in pretty much the whole world. From our faces to our furniture to themselves, some dogs are absolutely in love with licking anything and everything. Although it can be cute at first, it quickly gets pretty gross. So why do they do it?

According to ​Vetstreet, your pup's incessant licking is mostly their way of trying to show affection. When we pick up our dogs or give them attention, chances are we kiss or pat their heads, along with petting their fur. Their way to show love back to us is by licking.

However, there are other reasons your dog might be obsessively licking—including as a way to get attention. Licking can be a learned behavior for dogs, as they see that when they lick their owner, they get more attention. The behavior can seem like something humans want which, to an extent, it is.

Licking is also a sensory tool, so if your dog is licking random objects or areas of your home, they're probably just exploring. It's easier to get a feel for their surroundings if they can taste everything. But licking objects like your rug or furniture can also be indicative of anxiety or boredom (which can often lead to destructive behavior), and a recent study linked excessive licking of surfaces to certain gastrointestinal disorders.

Another reason for licking is your dog wanting to clean themselves and/or spots around them. They've seen it since they were born; animals lick things ritualistically for cleaning and care. If your dog seems to be obsessed with licking themselves or one particular thing, they probably are. (Yes, dogs can have OCD, too.)

As Vetstreet points out, "excessive" dog licking often only seems excessive to the dog's owner, not the pooch itself. But if it's bothersome enough to you, a trainer can often help curb your dog's enthusiasm for giving wet, sloppy kisses. And while strange behavior is not rare for pets, if your dog's licking seems odd or in any way concerning, there's no harm in taking your pet to the vet to check it out—even if it's just for peace of mind.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

iStock/RoBeDeRo
iStock/RoBeDeRo

The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But how does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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